Facial recognition apps have now hit the big time. That means Big Brother can recognize you wherever you go using public cameras or those worn by police. Now we will get things like facial profiling, facial mood recognition and facial interpretation. Where will it all stop? Never I guess.
Ever hear of the Theory of Mind (ToM)? That refers to our habit of attributing beliefs and thoughts to others based on how our own minds work. We use our perception of others’ facial expressions intensively in that practice. So now we can expect that psychologists and software developers are going to want to make ToM an operational reality. That is, they’re going to want to read your thoughts using facial recognition software.
Some of that is going to be uncannily accurate. Some of it is going to be egregiously wrong. But one thing you can be sure of is it’s going to happen.
That means there’s going to be a rapidly growing market for counter-measures so we can’t be read and misinterpreted by ToM apps. That means things like masks, and electronic counter-measures such as software that detects when you are being targeted by a facial recognition device and spoofing the device. Don’t laugh – its already happening. So the war to protect against facial recognition has already started. In turn this will result in counter-measures and counter-counter measures, etc.
There’s a limit to all this of course. As this war escalates we’re all going to gradually transition our public and online personas to avatars. At first these will be crude emoticons just like now. Pretty soon these are going to get more and more lifelike such that they become an online Doppelgänger of ourselves. These personal avatars will increasingly do our work for us, interacting online via AI with other avatars with which they need to interact, including our colleagues, relatives, friends and even close family.
Now we're going full circle. Facial recognition will then be used for ToM purposes on our personal avatars. So it won’t be long before our avatars need to be so designed and constructed that they don’t give us away, inadvertently or otherwise. We don’t want ToM spies using our real faces and then uncovering our real offline selves right?
Bear with me on this. I don’t want to hide myself from everyone. Maybe I want my family and my current squeeze to see my true self (or maybe not, who knows?). But I certainly want to have the choice. So our avatars have to be constructed with a series of layers I can call up in different environments and circumstances. That’s the intersection of AI, neuroscience, psychology and philosophy, aka ToM.
Can my avatar be made to learn to change its behavior in response to my different relationships with others? How about my own personal changing situations and circumstances? What about changes in the situations and circumstances of others as portrayed through their own avatars?
In other words, can my avatar become truly agile in a human sense? How about cunning when the situation demands? My avatar needs to have an underlying behavioral model that enables it to behave constructively in the real but online world. It almost certainly needs to do all this in the context of a ToM model. This needs to be smart enough to protect me from Big Brother or whoever wants to pry into my innermost thoughts. It needs to enable me to work fluidly with other avatars so that I can have a constructive relationship, even as my own situation and those of other avatars changes.
And once the ToM app can do that, will I be able to change my avatar to be something I’m really not? Who would know if I am allowed to dial that in in the privacy of my own ToM app settings? An ultimately flexible facial mask to enable me to appear only as I want to appear, irrespective of the inner reality, presuming there really is one?
Could this avatar become our “real” personality as known to everyone else and maybe even to ourselves. Will this enable us all to be the person we really want to be or always aspired to be?
Facial recognition apps are taking us ever-closer to a customizable personality. How do we interact with our friends and loves ones then?
Can we ever truly change our personalities?
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